This Cabinet Paper arises from the Review of the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management. Released by the Minister of State Services, 9 November 2004.

Office of the Minister of State Services

Chair

Cabinet Committee on Government Expenditure and Administration

Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management: Accountability Arrangements

Purpose

1 The purpose of this paper is to seek Cabinet's agreement to rescind the reference to "maximum autonomy" for the Ministry of Civil Defence Emergency Management and the direct accountability of the Director to the Minister of Civil Defence on policy matters as agreed in CAB (97)M17/3.

2 It arises from the interim report on the Review of the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (the Ministry).

Executive Summary

3 A review of the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management has found that while many aspects of the Ministry work very well and good progress is being made towards implementing the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002, there are a number of capability needs, such as improving the level of operations experience and policy capability, in the Ministry.

4 These capability needs, in part, are attributable to the fact that the Ministry has operated apart from the Department of Internal Affairs of which it is a part, consistent with decisions made by Cabinet in 1997.

5 The 1997 decisions and the way they have been reflected in instruments of delegation also create concerns about accountability arrangements. It is therefore proposed that new accountability arrangements should be implemented to allow the Ministry to be more closely integrated with the Department of Internal Affairs.

Background

6 The Ministry was established as part of the Department of Internal Affairs (the DIA) in 1999. It replaced the Ministry of Civil Defence which was established in 1998 following Cabinet decisions in 1997 (CAB(97)M17/3 refers). The establishment of the Ministry followed reviews of emergency services and disaster recovery in New Zealand.

7 The Ministry has a staff of 29 and a budget of about $6 million. It is headed by the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management (the Director) who is appointed by and is an employee of the Chief Executive of the DIA (the Chief Executive).

8 The functions and powers of the Director are set down in the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 (the Act). The Act gives the Director the power to act independently on a range of matters, including to direct and control the resources available for civil defence emergency management during a national emergency. This power to act independently reflects the need for someone to be able to act decisively in emergencies.

Review of the Ministry

9 In October 2003 Cabinet Policy Committee endorsed the terms of reference for a review of the Ministry which had been agreed by the Ministers of Civil Defence, Finance and State Services.

10 The agreed review was to be conducted in two phases:

  • Phase One - was to entail a self-assessment by the Ministry of its progress in implementing Part 2 of the Act, and a testing of this assessment against the views of key stakeholders in central government and in four regions. The State Services Commission did the review with assistance from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Treasury.
  • Phase Two - was to be a natural disaster scenario exercise conducted by the Officials Domestic and External Security Committee (ODESC) in May 2004, but is now proposed to be a debrief in August 2004 on the February 2004 floods in the Lower North Island.

11 Phase One of the review had multiple objectives relating to community preparedness, progress in implementing the Act and the Ministry's capability. Phase One is now complete, and an interim report addressing all review objectives has been prepared. The report is interim because the findings of Phase Two above will inform Phase One. This paper arises out of that interim report.

12 The team that completed Phase One of the review is of the view that many aspects of the Ministry work very well and it is making good progress toward implementing the Act. The interim report also notes, however, that the Ministry needs to:

  • review the level of staff turnover;
  • address stakeholders' concerns about the level of operations experience in the Ministry;
  • increase the ability to sustain effective relationships;
  • increase the communications capacity available to the Ministry; and
  • improve policy capability.

13 These capability needs reflect a range of matters, including that the Ministry has tended to operate apart from DIA consistent with decisions made by the Cabinet in 1997.

14 Subject to the agreement of Ministers to the final report the Chief Executive will in conjunction with the Director, investigate options, by December 2004, to improve the capability and capacity of the Ministry to address the five capability needs identified above.

15 Responses are expected to include ways to use resources across government agencies to support the Ministry's capability to respond to national emergency events, and initiatives to build policy and other capability. Such initiatives may result in a budget bid in the Ministry and the Department of Internal Affairs in the 2005 Budget round.

16 There is one area, however, that can be progressed now - the accountability arrangements.

17 As noted earlier, the Ministry was established in 1999 to replace the Ministry of Civil Defence which itself was set up in 1998 on the basis of a Cabinet decisions in 1997 (CAB(97)M17/3 refers). The 1997 decisions by Cabinet included the following:

d agreed that the new Ministry be located within the Department of Internal Affairs with the maximum autonomy including:

i the new Ministry to have its own Parliamentary vote;

ii the Director of the new Ministry to be directly accountable to the Minister for all policy matters;

iii the Director of the new Ministry to be a member of the Officials Domestic and External Security Committee (ODESC) for emergency matters.

18 The accountability arrangements approved in 1997 have encouraged the Ministry to operate in isolation from DIA. This modus operandi is reflected in instruments of delegation agreed between a previous Chief Executive and the Director. In particular, in 2001 the Director was given "...full responsibility for all matters relating to the delivery of the outputs that are specified in the Purchase Agreement" and deals directly with the Minister on these matters. This arrangement is still in force, and it is inconsistent with the Chief Executive's accountability for the Department.

19 The Ministry's modus operandi, and therefore the 1997 Cabinet decision that gave rise to it, raises two sorts of concern.

20 The Chief Executive is responsible under the State Sector Act 1988 for the carrying out of the functions and duties of the department, including those of the Ministry. This responsibility for the Ministry's activities exists regardless of what delegations are in place. The current Chief Executive is free to negotiate a revised instrument of delegation with the Director, but has ability to do so in a way that effectively addresses capability needs is limited by the autonomy for the Ministry reflected in the 1997 Cabinet decisions. Therefore, the Chief Executive is exposed regarding matters over which he has limited control.

21 Second, the small size of the Ministry means that, inevitably, it will need assistance from other agencies during national emergencies, from the wider Public Service, including the Department of Internal Affairs. It also means that the Ministry needs to work more closely on a day-to-day basis with the Department of Internal Affairs to benefit from its corporate systems, for example. While changing the accountability arrangements so that the Ministry is under the wing of the Chief Executive of the Department of Internal Affairs is by no means the whole solution to building the capability of the Ministry it is an important first step.

Proposals

22 I propose that Cabinet agree to rescind the reference to "maximum autonomy" and that the Director be directly accountable to the Minister for policy advice, as previously approved in 1997. The Director will continue to provide advice to the Minister of Civil Defence on matters relating to civil defence emergency management as provided for in the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002.

23 The other 1997 decisions of Cabinet do not need to be reviewed - the Director's membership of the Officials Domestic and External Security Committee is entirely appropriate and does not prevent participation in ODESC by the Chief Executive of DIA, and the existence of a separate Parliamentary vote provides a transparent and effective control for civil defence emergency management resources.

24 Once these elements of the 1997 Cabinet decisions have been rescinded the Chief Executive and the Director will develop proposals for addressing the capability needs in the Ministry identified by the review and discuss them with the Minister of Civil Defence. These proposals will include revised delegations and mechanisms for giving the Ministry access to additional resources during emergencies, including from DIA but also possibly from elsewhere because of the concern to ensure a response across government to emergencies. The proposals will be designed to ensure that the Director's existing statutory functions and powers remain intact.

25 These new arrangements would allow the Director to concentrate on the following key functions and responsibilities set down in the Act, and confirm the accountability of the Chief Executive for the Ministry's activities:

(a) provide advice to the Minister on matters relating to civil defence emergency management;

(b) identify hazards and risks that the Director considers are of national significance;

(c) monitor and evaluate the national civil defence emergency management strategy;

(d) develop, monitor and evaluate the national civil defence emergency management plan;

(e) develop, in consultation with the relevant persons and organisations that have responsibilities under this Act, any guidelines, codes, or technical standards that may be required for the purposes of this Act;

(f) monitor the performance of Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups and persons who have responsibilities under this Act;

(g) promote civil defence emergency management that is consistent with the purpose of this Act;

(h) during a state of national emergency, direct and control for the purposes of this Act the resources available for civil defence emergency management.

Consultation

26 The Department of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, the Treasury and Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet have been consulted on this paper.

Financial Implications

27 There are no immediate financial implications but addressing the capability needs identified in the review may require new funding, which would be sought in the 2005 Budget round.

Human rights

28 There are no human rights implications arising from this paper.

Legislative implications

29 There are no legislative implications arising from this paper.

Regulatory impact and compliance cost statement

30 No regulatory impact and compliance cost statement is required as a result of this paper.

Gender implications

31 No gender analysis is required due to advice in this paper.

Publicity

32 It is not proposed to make any public announcements as result of this paper.

Recommendations

33 It is recommended that the Cabinet Committee on Government Expenditure and Administration:

1 Note that the interim review of the Ministry of Civil Defence Emergency Management has found that many aspects work very well and it is making good progress toward implementing the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002;

2 Note that a review team led by the State Services Commission has identified five capability needs in the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management;

3 Note the review team's assessment that these capability needs in part are attributable to the fact the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management has operated apart from the Department of Internal Affairs of which it is a part;

4 Note the review team's assessment that the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management's modus operandi reflects decisions by Cabinet in 1997;

5 Note that the decisions by Cabinet in 1997 and the way they have been reflected in instruments of delegation also create concerns about accountability arrangements;

6 Agree that new accountability arrangements should be implemented to allow the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management to be more closely integrated with the Department of Internal Affairs;

7 Agree to rescind the reference in 1997 Cabinet decision CAB(97)M17/3 that the Ministry operate with "maximum autonomy" and the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management be directly accountable to the Minister for Civil Defence for all policy matters;

8 Note that the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management will continue to provide advice to the Minister of Civil Defence on matters relating to civil defence emergency management as provided for in the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002;

9 Agree that the 1997 decision by Cabinet that the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management be a member of the Officials Domestic and External Security Committee and a separate Parliamentary vote for the Ministry of Civil Defence Emergency Management is appropriate; and

10 Note that subject to the agreement of Ministers, the Chief Executive of the Department of Internal Affairs and the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management will develop proposals to address the capability needs that have been identified and discuss them with the Minister of Civil Defence.

Hon Trevor Mallard

Minister of State Services.

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